The Wykoff City Council met on March 13 in regular session, with all members in attendance: Mary Tjepkes, Rocky Vreeman, Mayor Al Williams, Clerk Becky Schmidt, Mary Sackett, and Brody Mensink. One of the main topics was a very high gas bill for the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) for the month of February. Schmidt explained that the gas bills for the WWTP have been extremely high for February in each of the past two years (2016 and 2017) and nobody can explain the reason. February charges have been in the $9,000 to $10,000 range, while other months have been in the $2,000 to $3,000 range, or less. She said she spoke to several people at Minnesota Energy about the bill, and could get no helpful ideas other than perhaps dirty filters caused the system to run inefficiently. Wade Baker shared his opinion, stating, “Triple the bill? That doesn’t sound feasible. No matter what’s going on, there’s no way the bill should be triple!” Staff will check to see that filters are replaced more often. The bills were approved for payment.
The council voted to accept Tom Manion’s resignation as city attorney, and will interview applicants for that position on March 22. Fire Chief Wade Baker submitted names of six applicants for firefighter positions that he’d like to hire to fill the current openings. The council approved the hirings, contingent on the applicants passing background checks. Baker also informed the council that he’s checked pricing for a “smart TV” that the fire department could use for online trainings. He said the TV would probably cost around $450 to $600, and the mounting bracket would be about $50 to $80. Brody Mensink questioned the need for the TV, stating, “I understand the need for the training…in my opinion we’d be better off putting the money into hands-on training.” Baker replied, “But $600 doesn’t even get you one training,” and he explained that the city could use the smart TV to access a wide variety of online trainings. He added that, for example, the department’s “bloodborne pathogen” training is on VHS tape, and is at least twenty years old. After discussion, the council voted to approve up to $600 for Baker to purchase the equipment (TV and bracket).
Mayor Williams shared that he’d received an email from Mark Arndt, explaining that Mark will be absent from WWTP for two or three days later this month while attending training. After discussion, it was decided that Williams will take on the primary duties at the WWTP during Arndt’s absence. The council discussed the plans to set up a Personnel Committee, and Mayor Williams said the city will need to hold off on that plan until a new city attorney is on board. He also added, “According to the League of Minnesota Cities, the city council can, as a whole, delegate one or two people to be the direct supervisor of any city employee.” No action was taken at this time.
Becky Schmidt shared that there was one employee who asked if payroll deductions were being done correctly. Schmidt said she checked into this, and found out she had been doing it correctly for the current situation. The city had received one complaint about snow removal on Fillmore Street, on a day when drifting occurred.
The council discussed work hours and avoiding overtime by city employees. Brody Mensink said, “If we’re going to do that, then in the same aspect, if (as council members) we’re getting paid to get stuff done in meetings, I think we should cut our special meeting pay.” The council discussed this, and voted to cut the council’s special meeting pay in half.
Daren Sikkink, representing WHKS, will attend the council’s next regular meeting on Monday, April 10 at 7 p.m., and will discuss the sanitary sewer project on South Main Street. Schmidt shared that the city will be awarded FEMA funds of $16,396 to use toward the crossover pipe and excavating work.